Yesterday, I finally got around to reading an old children’s book that has been catching my eye for a while, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. The book was published in 1943 and is supposedly the most translated book in the French language. The original French title is Le Petit Prince.
Although it is a children’s book, there is much that can be learned from it. It makes observations about human nature, our society as human beings, and the “strangeness” of adulthood. I believe that the theme of the book can be summed up by one quote:
One sees clearly only with the heart. What is essential is invisible to the eye.”
The author argues that adults have lost the ability to see with the heart. They have no imagination, and thus can only rely on what they can see with their eyes. It is best illustrated by one of the first narratives offered in the book. When the narrator was a boy, he drew a picture of an elephant that had been swallowed by a boa constrictor. The drawing looked like this:
The boy said, “I showed my masterpiece to the grown-ups, and asked them whether the drawing frightened them.” They answered, “Why would we be frightened by a hat?” The boy then must explain to them that the drawing is not of a hat. His second drawing to them looked like this:
Only after the grown-ups saw the second drawing did they understand.
I will leave you with one last quote from the book, so that I don’t spoil it all for you 😉
Men have no more time to understand anything. They buy things all ready made at the shops. But there is no shop anywhere where one can buy friendship, and so men have no friends anymore.”
To note: because the book was written in French, there are a few different translations of the book. They all get the same message across though. I highly recommend reading this “children’s novel!” I think you would join me in agreeing that the author wrote it more for us grown-ups than the children.
Have you ever read The Little Prince?